Eight couriers arrested in Seattle’s recent crackdown on illegal pot delivery services were charged last week in Seattle Municipal Court. They face misdemeanor charges carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
What a goddamn shame. As the Seattle Times noted, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office has had great success in closing illegal cannabis businesses without resorting to criminal prosecution, and voiced his opposition to criminal charges for the eight couriers. Earlier this year, Satterberg convinced 15 unlicensed dispensaries in unincorporated King County to close voluntarily using only written threats of civil suit. The charges brought against the eight couriers were filed by the city attorney's office.
Strongly worded letters are the right way to address these nonviolent, largely victimless crimes. Unlike criminal charges, letters don’t destroy people’s lives.
ICYMI: “The Failed Promise of Legal Pot”
Also in the "unheeded lessons from the Drug War" department, this Atlantic article on persistent racial disparities in cannabis criminal prosecutions is a must-read.
TL;DR: Legalization made things better, but let’s save the celebratory champagne until young black men aren’t arrested at hugely disproportionate rates for black-market pot sales that they engage in because they’re stuck in a system that denies them legitimate economic opportunity.
Match.com Study Finds More Orgasms for Potheads
A little good news to offset those depressing tidbits: Pot users get off more. In a recent blog post, heavily laden with bad gifs, Match.com divulges user survey data that shows that users who are pot-friendly are 109 percent more likely than those who aren't open to pot to experience multiple orgasms. As an added bonus, those open-minded respondents also reported 3.6 percent more orgasms per sexual encounter and were 30 percent more likely to make out after a date.
Louisiana Expands Medical Marijuana System
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill expanding the state’s preexisting but effectively useless medical marijuana system into law last week, reports the Associated Press. Louisiana approved medical marijuana for glaucoma and chemotherapy patients in 1978, explains this excellent NOLA.com slideshow from 2015, but the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) never acted on it. In 1991, the program was expanded to include spastic quadriplegia, and a deadline for setting up a regulatory structure was established.
It wasn’t until 2014, however, when former DHH director Fred Mills, by then a state representative, introduced a bill to set up an actual program. Mills had noticed an overabundance of calls from puzzled physicians asking how to go about prescribing pot during his time at DHH, and was shocked to learn that despite the 1991 expansion bill, nothing concrete had been done.
Now, after two of Mills' bills got axed due to opposition by the aggressively anti-pot Louisiana Sheriffs' Association, there is finally a viable medical marijuana program in place. The program only allows non-smokable cannabis, and gives LSU and Southern University first crack at being the state’s officially sanctioned growers. If they decline, private industry will get a shot, but it won’t be the MMJ bonanza that California is. Only ten licensed outlets will be allowed, and the program is specifically targeted at really, really sick people. Think kids with severe epilepsy and terminal cancer patients, not people with back pain or general anxiety.
But fear not, Louisiana potheads, the kids in the black Benz will still be parked next to the New Orleans skatepark, bumping Future and filling your unofficial prescriptions, and random drunk guys will still hand you joints outside of bars.
Tennessee Congressional Candidate Busted for Pot
And she is completely and refreshingly unrepentant, reports the Inquisitr. The Crossville Police Department busted into Florence “Flo” Matheson’s barn last week, finding 180 plants growing there as well as two ounces of pot in her house. This flap comes in the midst of her campaign for Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District seat as a Democrat, in which she hopes to unseat Rep. Diane Black.
While it is not clear what the bust means for Matheson's political future, it is clear that she is a certified badass. She had no qualms telling Fox 19 that she smokes pot, gives zero fucks who knows, and is going to keep running for Congress to change “bad laws” on pot even if she’s indicted.
In another interesting twist, the plants apparently did not belong to Matheson. The Inquisitr reports that they were cultivated in secret by Stephen Harrington, a 66-year-old disabled vet that Matheson allowed to live on her property in exchange for caretaking and handyman services. Apparently she is not just a badass but also good person. While Harrington immediately claimed responsibility for the plants, confirming that Matheson had no knowledge of them and publicly apologizing, Matheson was quick to claim the ounces in the house.
“I smoke marijuana. I’m guilty,” Matheson said to Fox 19. “I really don’t regret that this happened. It’s been a life-changing experience for me and in that it has made me more defiant and determined to try and get these laws changed.” (Emphasis mine.) Free Matheson!
House Joins Senate in Okaying Pot for Vets
Both houses of Congress, in a delightful “fuck you” to the VA's policy preventing docs from discussing pot as a treatment option with veterans, passed amendments to military construction funding bills preventing the VA from using any funds to enforce that policy, reports the Military Times. You can have your dumb policy, says Congress, you just can't enforce it.
Both amendments were sponsored by Oregon legislators—Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Jeff Merkley, joined by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana). This isn’t Blumenauer’s first effort to prod the feds on pot: He also sponsored a bill to end the USPS ban on pot ads in newspapers that are delivered via post, after the USPS sent out a memo warning mail-dependent newspapers to drop their cannabis ads or do their own delivery.
Editor's note: This post has been corrected since it was originally published.